Member Profiles > Anne and Fred Osborn
family roots deep in the traditions of land preservation and
conservation, Anne and Fred Osborn and their children are conscientious
caretakers of properties in Garrison, Putnam County, that include Cat
Rock, a popular site for weddings with panoramic views of the Catskills
Mountains, the Hudson River and the New York City skyline as backdrops.
foundations for their dedication and passion for the land were laid
generations ago for both Fred and Anne, who serves on the NYFOA board.
was raised on a 100-acre parcel of land in Northern Westchester near
the Mianus River. Her father, Jim Todd, who passed away in 1996,
donated the greater part of the land to the Nature Conservancy as part
of the Mianus River Gorge Preserve. Now encompassing more than 700
acres around the Mianus River watershed in Connecticut and New York,
the Mianus River Gorge Preserve was the first project completed by the
Nature Conservancy in 1953. The Mianus Gorge Preserve is also the first
National Natural History Landmark, so designated by the U.S. Department
of the Interior.
Some 150 years ago, Fred’s
great-great-grandparents, purchased the property on the summit of Cat
Rock, or Wildcat Mountain, in Garrison. Originally a favorite picnic
destination, his grandparents started developing the 100-acre site in
1919 as a getaway from the busy life of New York City.
Rock was owned by 76 shareholders of Oslands, Inc. in 1987, but shares
in the land holding corporation established by Fred’s grandfather are
now held by fewer than 20 family members. Anne and Fred have bought up
many of the shares, and they now own the majority, they said.
entire Cat Rock property is rented in July and August, but in the early
summer, May and June, and early fall, September and October, Cat Rock
is a picture-perfect place of celebration for brides and grooms. In
2008, 22 outdoor weddings were planned during the four months, Anne
Sometimes the wedding parties rent one or more
of the many bedrooms of the main house, as well as a cabin in the
woods, which serves as a rustic wedding night cabin. As for Anne and
Fred’s own room, it is often occupied by the bridal couple or the
bride’s parents, which leaves Anne and Fred bedless just about every
weekend, they said.
The Osborns’ eldest son,
Frederick Henry “Hank” Osborn IV, is Cat Rock general manager,
overseeing the weddings while his parents stay with friends or attend
college reunions and conferences. Anne’s family has a summer house on
Martha’s Vineyard, and Fred’s family has a rustic retreat in Maine,
though the distant locations prove to be far more convenient for their
July and August eviction than for weekend travel, Anne said.
and his wife were one of the first couples to be married at Cat Rock
after Fred and Anne moved there. Daughter Ellie’s marriage followed
three years later. Their youngest, Graham, held an engagement party
last summer at Cat Rock, and he, too, is involved with Oslands, Inc.,
which owns and runs Cat Rock and the numerous houses on the estate.
so many weddings and visitors each year, Cat Rock undergoes a lot of
wear and tear. According to Fred, there are at least two or three
different contractors on the property repairing ancient infrastructure
at any given time. The Osborns are currently concentrating on repairing
the plumbing, driveway, septic system, roof, windows and a steam-ruined
floor. They are also contemplating repairing the 85-year-old original
tennis court on the property.
For her part, Anne is
attempting to restore the main garden, which was designed by Fred’s
grandmother, Margaret Schieffelin Osborn, and Ellen Shipman in 1924.
She also intends to restore the banks and earthen dam of an old ice
pond with native riparian vegetation. This will result in vernal
flooding of a few very large tulip, poplar and oak trees that are
growing in the sediments of the old pond, she said.
already discussed the possibilities of wetland enhancement with the
DEC, Anne plans to obtain bare-rooted plants and other shrubs from the
state division of soil and water. Perhaps if conditions are right, this
will create a suitable native turtle habitat, Anne said. She also
intends to bury power lines along part of the historic Old West Point
Road, which borders the ice pond.
When not concerned
with the Cat Rock estate, Anne and Fred focus on their other
properties. Fred and his siblings control another 150 acres of forest
land, which Anne, a private consulting forester by training, has mapped
by stand and soil type.
In the 1960’s, Fred’s
grandparents and their neighbors set up the Garrison School Forest, 181
acres of wooded lands that included a state Revolutionary War historic
site. Over the years, additional gifts to the School Forest have
included a Boy Scout cabin, a meadow habitat and interpretive signage
explaining the context of the School Forest.
the state is negotiating to buy a large parcel of land from the
Osborns, in order to keep it undeveloped but under sound forest
management. The existing preserve, managed by the DEC, was donated many
years ago by Fred’s great-grandfather. Further acreage was purchased in
the 1970’s from the estate of a deceased cousin.
managing the various properties with Fred, Anne keeps busy as an active
grandmother to five grandchildren and serving on several non-profit
boards including the NYFOA, the Garrison Union Free School Forest
Committee, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Russel Wright Design
Center at Manitoga, the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, the Black
Rock Forest Consortium and the Alumnae Counsel of the Yale School of
Forestry and Environmental Studies.
In addition, she
worked temporarily as the science project coordinator for the New
York-New Jersey Trail Conference, a loose confederation of many
different hiker groups, which helps to maintain more than 1,700 miles
of hiking trails in the Highlands area, including the Appalachian
Trail. Next fall, Anne will return to private forestry consulting, she
Fred, retired since 2005, previously worked
with the Episcopal Church Foundation, a non-profit organization for
clergy and parish support. While active with the Foundation, Fred spent
much of his time traveling around the country teaching others how to
raise money in support of their missions. Fred is currently on the
board of 12 other organizations, though he is not active in NYFOA.
became involved with NYFOA through the late Eugene McCardle in the
spring of 2000. While writing her final paper for Yale University’s
Forestry School, Anne kept up a regular correspondence with Eugene, who
helped put her in touch with many valuable contacts. After his death
later that year, Anne said she wanted to join NYFOA in an attempt to
fill the large gap Eugene had left. That year Anne became chapter
president of the Lower Hudson Chapter and held the position until 2007.